Hope for charities tinged with caution

This one day conference held in London on 9th June attracted approximately 600 delegates from all parts of the United Kingdom and from all sorts of diverse organisations including  independent schools, universities,  orchestras, religious orders and the disability sector. An interesting line up of speakers presented on an equally diverse range of topics from Government policy to The Eden Project and everything in between!  So what were the highlights and the key takeaways for the sector to think about? The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General had a message of hope tinged with concerns over the forthcoming announcements regarding funding cuts.  He spoke at length about the Big Society Bank which will utilise monies from dormant Bank accounts (amounting to millions of pounds) which will be used to enable Charitable organisations to borrow funds in order that they can compete for business which has previously only been available within the public sector.  The role and purpose of a huge number of Charities will therefore change significantly. Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission delivered an impressive speech about the changing role for the sector after the budget cuts are announced.  She promoted joint ventures between organisations working in similar areas.  For example, there are 700 different Charities in the UK who have a mission to look after blind people.  All of these organisations presently compete for a share of the same pound and after the cuts a number of these will be forced to merge in order to survive.  Each trustee of every board in the UK should ask themselves 4 questions:
  1. Who are we?
  2. Who are we trying to help?
  3. How do we meet the public benefit test?
  4. If we were given a large donation today, what would we do with it?
There are so many different Charitable organisations in the UK of varying size and most interestingly, 45% of Charities have total annual income of £10,000 or less so consolidation within the sector seems inevitable. Duncan